What is Iran’s goal in the Jerusalem crisis?

 
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a virtual speech, on the occasion of the Prophet Mohammad's birthday, in Tehran, Iran November 3, 2020.
(photo credit: OFFICIAL KHAMENEI WEBSITE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

At Iran’s Press TV, its propaganda network focused on Western audiences in English, has wall-to-wall coverage of the violence in Jerusalem.

Iran has been fanning the flames of the confrontations in Jerusalem.
Days before the latest clashes developed, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and its IRGC head, Hossein Salami, prepared speeches and media engagements in which they pushed messages throughout the region, arguing that Israel is in a “downward spiral” and destined to fall apart. This message was given to Hassan Nasrallah in his Lebanon bunker where he would also emphasize Israel’s internal divisions in a Quds Day speech on Friday, May 7.
 
This message discipline of Iran and its proxies was clear. Days later, however, as the violence in Jerusalem has grown and western powers have joined the chorus condemning Israel, as well as countries in the Gulf, who have increased concerns. Iran has been more quiet. So what happened? Why isn’t Iran’s regime riding the chaos, exploiting it, increasing tensions in Syria?  
 
While tensions simmer in Jerusalem on Monday, Iran’s Tasnim, which is linked to the IRGC, ran an all-important story about bureaucracy in Iran. “Why should an entrepreneur go to 18 places to get a license?” Good question, but not the usual “Zionism is ending” dogma. What other news from Tehran? The regime is talking about the Vienna nuclear talks and discussing the pandemic. At Fars News the stories revolve around the high cost of vaccines and reduction in smuggling.  
 
There is no doubt that in English, Iran has a different message. At Iran’s Press TV, its propaganda network focused on western audiences in English, it has wall-to-wall coverage of Jerusalem. Iran-backed Hamas says Israel will pay a price for the violence and Iran notes that its foreign ministry cares deeply about Palestinian issues. Of course, we know that the ministry is in the dog house with the Iranian regime in recent weeks because of leaked tapes of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaking with embarrassing disrespect about the late Qasem Soleimani.  
 
Iran may be fumbling a bit in trying to ride the chaos in Jerusalem. It has long backed Hamas and Hezbollah, but as usual, Iran has no real plan to confront Israel. It prefers the propaganda of claims that Israel is falling apart from within, rather than take direct action. This is because Iran knows its own capabilities fall short of confronting Israel on the battlefield, or even with its proxies. It sought to fan the flames of chaos on Quds Day, but beyond that, it has nothing to show for it. Despite its propaganda, it has made no real inroads with the Palestinians and so far it is struggling to exploit the violence.

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